Do we ever learn?
We are often busy from the time we wakeup till the time we go to sleep. Our time seems never adequate enough to compete with the pace that our society compelled us to engage in. We go to work and compete to outsmart our colleagues; our business world teaches us to make more money than others, and our political engagement forces us to acquire more power than others.
We teach our children to be 'better and the best' and take them from one coaching center to the next. Socially we compete to show off with our accumulated wealth, power and position.
We read history that we were not physically a part of to learn. The history that we were a part of, we don't have time to reflect upon. We listen from news, media and new media, quick information but don't have time to process and truly absorb those information and use in our daily life.
'COVID - 19'--when I first heard of it through news media and WHO press, I thought of it like other viruses, one that will go away! In my conscious and subconscious mind, I felt we live in an advanced world, where this kind of virus has no place in our super world. We are taught to believe that we are globally connected and our world is capable of mitigating all kinds of challenges that comes our way. The understanding was somewhat true, and that gave me courage to believe. Our powerful nations combined with other nations and state, and together they faced the tsunamis, tornadoes, flooding, bushfires, earthquakes and Nine -Eleven (9/11).
We saw these on television and through other media, felt bad for the people who lost their loved ones and the living sufferers and then, we moved on with our lives. Nothing had happened to my loved ones or me. It was like another sad incident I read or saw in the media.
We received instructions from powerful nations and followed their instructions to the hilt.
We heard warnings from the scientific community about global warming, we heard voices of Greenpeace, we heard the voices of activists of all ages and all nations but not much happened in taking careful or collective action to prevent or save Our World! When power, money and policy are controlled by a few nations, there is not much weaker nations can do.In this busy world, everyday we follow the trend set by others and we merely follow and abide by. Sadly, we have very little voice in designing policy of any kind.
COVID - 19, or Corona's arrival is teaching us something different. This CORONA, for the first time gave us the feeling of equal opportunity - non-discriminatory and equal. COVID - 19 locked us down, tied our legs, no matter where we are. From Prince Charles, Justin Trudeau to Matin Miah of Gaibandha, Bangladesh. I am happy and very sad.
I remember vividly our nine nine months of struggle of the Liberation War. We lost three million lives. Almost all of our population was affected. Our houses were burnt to the ground; we lost our friends and families, struggled everyday for the next meal. Tears and Fears were everyday feeling. Our Birangonas' cries still echo in the air! But today, do we really feel the pain of those who suffered?
Some say nine months was too soon. I remember the time of our Liberation War. Every day was so painful, we were super-anxious to know when the trauma and pain will end. But the pain and trauma ended. And we have the birth of a nation to celebrate. However, I feel sad, when I see our 'missing' compassion and spirit appear only in stage speech and slogans.
Coronavirus scare today is an unprecedented event of time we are passing. Not just Bangladesh but the whole world is a victim of the same fear and uncertainty. We don't know when and how I can get infected and I also don't know if there will be a vaccine to protect me in the near future.
Like all other calamities or challenges that have come to this world, COVID - 19 will also disappear and I sincerely hope it does. I just don't know when and at what cost. We are now confined to our homes except for our Bir Muktijoddhas who are providing us health services and essential services for us to survive.
I fear, when 'CORONA' goes home to rest and if I survive, will I be able to learn and retain my understanding of coexistence in equal terms. When today's lesson becomes history will the world only remember the year 2020 as a 'CORONA' year or will they use the knowledge to change policy - where all nations respect the need to work together for a better world?
The writer is a businessman, social worker and member of the board of trustees, Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralyzed (CRP)